Trump’s Rock Solid Base

Do you take comfort from Trump’s historically low poll numbers? After all, with an approval rating below 40 percent, he is the most unpopular president in American history.

But don’t be misled. That base of his is rock solid.

A friend of mine, Christian McCulloch, posted an observation on Facebook recently that Trump’s base would turn against him only if he suddenly became black.

And that is disturbingly close to the truth.

Rickie, our neighbor across the street, is a Trump supporter, and he dropped by the other day to bend my ear.

He went on the usual right-wing rant about Hillary – and just about everybody else in the Democratic hierarchy – being child molesters and worse.  He repeated the right wing’s pet conspiracy theories – the “assassination” of that Democratic National Party worker who leaked thousands of damning DNC emails, for example.

Then he exposed the root cause of the Trump revolt.

“We white people have been pushed around for too long,” he grumbled.

I’ll bet that comes as news to anyone in America who has run into “white privilege.” And to anyone who has been prosecuted for driving while black.

I’m sure the loved ones of black victims of police violence – those hapless young men gunned down as a result of obvious racial profiling for example – don’t think American culture unfairly favors nonwhites.

But apparently, a lot of white Americans feel unfairly treated. I guess they’re upset at being told not to use the N word any longer. And they’re fuming over Affirmative Action and other political attempts to compensate for the horrors of slavery.

To these people, Trump is their champion. He could use the presidency to fill his pockets, trash our precious environment, fire anyone who dares to stand up to him – or, I suppose, even shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, as he once said.  None of those abuses would matter to the aggrieved white Americans who support him.

Of course this is shocking. Of course you and I find it hard to believe America is still so primitive. We had thought that the election and reelection of a black president meant the country had at long last emerged from the shadows of Jim Crow.

Sadly, we were wrong. America has come a long way, but the society still has a long way to go before it can claim to be completely enlightened.

More on the white identity crisis

An example of “white rage”

 

Suppression of Dissent?

If you’ve been wondering what happened to my blogs recently, the answer is very strange – and very disturbing.

A few days ago, the blogs disappeared and I could neither read existing blogs nor write new ones.

The Jamaicans.com web master, Xavier Murphy, told me the site must have been hacked. It took him a couple of days to restore the site.

I wonder why anyone would want to wipe out blogs on Jamaicans.com.

My blogs have been mostly political, examining American politics from one Jamaican immigrant’s perspective.

The blog I wrote just before the site crashed dealt with Trump’s attempts to muzzle the press, and in several blogs I tried to shine a light in the unsavory shadows of Trump’s past.  One of the comments I received – by a reader named Eddie – included a link to a Dutch video describing Trump’s underworld connections.

Would it be crazy to suggest this had something to do with the site being hacked?

I have been blunt in my criticism of the new American regime, and I have made no attempt to conceal my liberal-progressive convictions.

As you would expect, comments have been favorable and unfavorable. One reader even suggested that Jamaicans.com should stop publishing political blogs.

Of course I realize that criticism from a blogger on Jamaicans.com is not one of Trump’s major concerns. And it might be grandiose to suggest that shady characters involved in American politics would take the trouble to retaliate against us. But could some random Trump supporter be the hacker?

After all, who else would want to hack the site?

Anyway, thanks to Xavier, we’re up and running again. And I will continue to speak out whenever I notice something fishy in American politics.

 

Suppressing the Press

Thomas Jefferson observed that if he had to choose between a government without newspapers and newspapers without a government, he would unhesitatingly “prefer the latter.”

That’s how important a free press was to America’s founders.

A free press is an essential part of a democracy. And suppressing the press is an essential tactic in creating a dictatorship.

I’m sure you’ve noticed how Trump consistently belittles and berates the news media, calling them names and shutting them out of state events. But he has stopped short of jailing them the way his pal Putin has made a habit of doing.

Until now.

This morning, in the wake of James Comey’s firing. I came across a news item about a reporter being arrested for persistently questioning a government official.

How ominous is that?

The reporter, Dan Hayman of Public News Service (photo at right) , was yelling questions at Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who was visiting Charleston, West Virginia.

Wow! If that kind of government had been in power during my time as a reporter, I would certainly have spent a lot of time in prison as I yelled questions at officials all the time.

I wonder what’s next. Voter intimidation perhaps? I read that Trump is setting up a commission to investigate “voter fraud,” which almost everyone else knows is virtually non-existent. What’s that all about?
The news story

 

Removing all Doubt

If I still had any lingering doubts about Trump and his minions conspiring with Putin and his minions to sabotage Hillary’s campaign, the firing of FBI Director James Comey would’ve put them to rest.

You don’t have to be smart to connect the dots.

Comey announces that the FBI is investigating the Trump-Putin conspiracy and a few days later Trump fires Comey.

Yes, I know what Trump and his minions said. They claim they fired Comey for being so unfair to Hillary during the campaign.

If you believe that, there’s a piece of swampland down here in Florida I might interest you in buying.

Remember how Trump praised Comey when he smeared Hillary? Remember “Lock ‘er up,” “Lock ‘er up”?

So now he is punishing Comey for helping him win the White House?

Trump and his minions must have had a good laugh when they came up with that one.

Obviously, they don’t care if we know they’re feeding us baloney. Indeed, I imagine they want us to know what’s really going on, and they want us to be warned. You could be next if you cross them, buddy.

Every day, in every way, this Trump presidency becomes more of a Third World dictatorship.

When will our craven Congress decide they’ve had enough?

Even the most gullible or cynical American must realize by now what’s happening to our democracy.

If Congress doesn’t impeach Trump, we the people may have to take matters into our own hands – the way they do in those other Third World dictatorships.

More on Comey’s firing

The future with Trump?

 

A Matter of Life or Death

As I remember it, Jamaica had public hospitals when I was growing up there. They weren’t fancy. But they were free.

These hospitals were funded by the government – the British government because Jamaica was then a colony. And some of them dated from Queen Victoria’s time. I don’t think Queen Victoria was a “socialist,” do you?

Now, living in America so many years later, I wonder why the world’s richest country still balks at providing health care for its people.

Throughout the civilized world, governments routinely provide free health care. But not here.

Why?

One reason is the fear of “socialism” in America. A deliberately created propaganda machine has convinced Americans of the virtues of a “free market.”

And there’s a lot that’s good in a free-market economy.

But health care is not a commodity like sugar or oil. Health care is a matter of life or death.

In my view, it is obscene for private companies to profit from our illnesses, leaving those of us who cannot afford to pay for care to sicken and die.

Some Americans apparently agree with that view. Bernie Sanders is one. He is proposing a government operated single-payer system to provide affordable health insurance for all.

In the current political environment, Bernie’s proposal is a non-starter. Instead, the Republican controlled Senate is likely to adopt a slightly less venomous version of the Trumpcare monstrosity approved in the House.

Surely, America is better than that? Surely, Americans must realize by now that talk of “socialism” is just verbal fog generated to obscure the real issues?

Nobody that I know of is suggesting the government take over America’s mines and factories. But health insurance is a different matter entirely.

At the very least, the government should let everyone enroll in Medicare, while allowing health insurance companies to provide competing plans.

If the government is as inefficient as the free-market trolls insist, the private companies should have no problem competing against a government-run plan. Right?

Anyway, I think the Republicans are inviting a massive backlash with their health care approach. I look forward to their defeat in the mid-term elections and a return to a Democratic Congress.

Perhaps this time, government health insurance will have a chance, and mighty America will catch up with the Jamaica of my childhood.

The Trumpcare horror

Bernie’s proposal

More on Jamaica’s health care

 

Misdiagnosing Trump

 

George Will’s column diagnosing Trump as having a dangerous “disability” is attracting a lot of attention but the diagnosis is wrong. And it obscures a far more malignant truth.

Will  (illustration at right) argues that Trump is unable to function normally because of a mental disability. He wrote:

The problem isn’t that he does not know this or that, or that he does not know that he does not know this or that. Rather, the dangerous thing is that he does not know what it is to know something”

I am no psychologist but I am sure Trump not only knows what it is to know things but also knows how to get what he wants by subterfuge and guile.

His is an old ruse. In Jamaica they call it “playing fool to catch wise.”

It isn’t that he doesn’t know this or that, the truth is that Trump just doesn’t care. To him, American history is unimportant, syntax is unimportant, the precise meaning of words is unimportant.

He dismisses it all as a waste of his precious time because he has bigger fish to fry.

This offhand approach not only endears him to his followers it also disguises his focus on achieving his real agenda.

That agenda has nothing to do with history or syntax or “political correctness.”  And it has  little to do with legislation or governance or the national economy.

He is spending his time on such matters only to advance his goal of building the Trump brand globally and enriching the Trump family. Everything he does serves that end, including his attempt to create a Putin-like dictatorship in America.

After all, isn’t that how Putin became the richest man in the world?

And if Trump’s offhand approach to some aspects of his presidency makes him appear befuddled, that befuddlement may make him appear benign.

As someone with a mental disability, he may even seem to deserve our concern and good=natured indulgence rather than our suspicion and dread.

No, George Will, Trump isn’t suffering from any disability. He is “crazy like a fox.” It’s the rest of us who don’t “know this or that.”

Will’s column

 

The Quality of Mercy

Who would take a trillion dollars from the poor and sick to provide billions in tax cuts for the richest Americans?

And do it openly for all the world to see?

The answer is 217 Republican members of the House of Representatives. And Trump.

These people are prepared to let the poor sicken and die so that the rich can buy a new Lexus or spend an extra week on the Riviera.

Surely they must have a moral defense? But what?

They might respond, as Shakespeare’s Shylock did, that there is no ccompulsion to be merciful.

But, as Shakespeare’s Portia explained, “the quality of mercy is not strained.” It comes naturally to decent human beings.

Apparently not all Americans are decent. Some are selfish and cruel. And they don’t mind being seen as selfish and cruel.

The health care bill approved by the House yesterday as replacement for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will show me how many Americans are decent human beings. If this draconian bill becomes law, kicking millions off Medicaid and leaving millions more without affordable health care, it will show that the quality of mercy no longer rules in America.

Surely, this travesty cannot be allowed to play itself out. Surely, the public will rise up in revulsion to force the bill’s rejection by the Senate. Surely, the time has come for decent Americans to take to the streets.

If this vile law passes, I will know that the country I chose as my home, the  land where the Statue of Liberty extends a loving welcome to those “huddled masses” – that wonderful country – no longer exists. I will know that this culture has become so depraved that Americans are either so merciless or so uncaring that the cruelest and most craven among us now have total control of the levers of power.

It’s sad that the basest elements of society have managed to acquire political supremacy through guile and deceit. It would be tragic if these wretched creatures succeed in reshaping America in their own image.

Click for the news story.

An analysis of the bill

How your representative voted

 

The America-First Fallacy

The right-wing propaganda machine has suddenly discovered the evils of globalization, and the Republicans are closing ranks around the isolationist promises that helped win Trump the presidency.

The concept is nonsensical, of course. America’s wealth and power are derived from interaction with the rest of the world. And often that interaction is clearly in America’s favor.

In Latin America for example.

With covert CIA support, American corporations have exploited Latin America’s natural resources, leaving financial misery and political oppression in their wake.

Now, it seems many Americans want to wall off the wretchedness that America helped create, denying the victims of America’s predatory policies the sanctuary they seek in America.

America’s corporate giants exploit poverty-ridden societies not just in Latin America but around the world.  And while there have been painful side-effects, there have been benefits for everyday Americans as well.

The use of sweatshop labor in foreign countries, for example, has meant severe job losses but it has kept consumer prices relatively low and rewarded investors large and small.

The same people who complain bitterly about jobs leaving America insist  on the lowest possible prices for their groceries,  clothes and other purchases. And I don’t see them refusing the money their pension plans and other investments derive from the corporations responsible for America’s job losses.

Another way in which America benefits from international interaction is through the global financial system. I don’t pretend  to understand how the system works but I can see that funds from around the world pour into American financial markets.

And the dollar’s designation as the world’s “reserve currency” provides significant advantages.

Before America became a global player, Americans led simpler lives, relying on the earth for food and on local craftsmen for clothes, utensils and so on. We may look back on those days with nostalgia but I doubt many of today’s Americans would want to live like the characters in “Little House on the Prairie.”

Most ominous of all is Trump’s promise of an “America-first” approach. Does it include imposition of America’s will through the use of its military might? Would America embark on a mission of conquest like Alexander the Great?

Or is the plan one of withdrawal from global interaction, closing off America from the rest of the world through walls and trade barriers?

Throughout history, other great powers that engaged in either type of behavior have inevitably invited disaster.

The way I see it, America’s answer to the income inequality and unemployment created by globalization must come from tax policies, targeted retraining initiatives and other government action to level the economic playing field at home, not from bullying the rest of the world.

I would also hope America would use its power to ensure that  global trade helps to eradicate poverty in developing countries, creating a better world for us all.

More on America-first

More on the reserve currency

Pros and cons of globalization

The global financial system

 

America – Changed Forever?

America has survived the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency but the country may have changed forever.

All pretense of decency, brotherhood and public service has been ripped away and the nation stands revealed for what it has become – a disparate collection of competing special interests.

Obviously, “we the people” no longer believe in the “common good.” And we have come to accept the same cynical selfishness from our politicians.

The nation seems resigned to the harsh reality that politicians are in politics for their own gain, not to make America or the world better.

Trump has demonstrated how modern American politics works.

He is using the presidency – without dissembling or apologizing – to make money for himself and his family. And he is shamelessly pandering to the worst instincts of the American people to maintain his power base.

And he is getting away with it.

In the process, incalculable damage is being done to the country and the world. The environment is being trashed deliberately and malevolently. Global cooperation is being mocked, and bullying has replaced diplomacy. Even the prospect of nuclear war is no longer treated with respect.

As for concepts like the brotherhood of human beings, those are totally discarded. In the era of Trump, it’s everyone for himself or herself, and the Devil take anyone foolish or weak enough to be left behind.

So how can we blame Barack Obama for accepting a $400,000 speaking fee? It’s the new America, folks, where people in power are allowed to use their positions for personal gain without even bothering to hide it.

In this post-ethics age, conflicts of interest are routinely ignored. Apparently, this kind of behavior is not just accepted but expected.

Now, it’s take the money and lie about it.  And give the idiots who support you bumper stickers instead of bread. Use their prejudices to control them. Say anything they want to hear and do whatever makes you richer and more powerful.

In such a world, what motivation is there for young people to serve their society – or even vote?

In the wake of these disastrous 100 days, I shudder to think of the horrors ahead.

Trump’s conflict of interest

Ethics in the age of Trump

Obama’s speaking fee

 

Nobody Likes Taxes, but…

A Canadian millionaire I interviewed back in the Sixties insisted he liked to pay taxes because if he wasn’t doing well financially he wouldn’t be taxed.

But I’m sure he is a rare bird. Most of us hate taxes.

It is not only painful to our bank accounts but often a pain in the neck as well.

The annual income tax ritual, for example.

Unless you enjoy rummaging through random receipts and doing a lot of complicated math – or paying someone else to do it –  it’s a dreaded ordeal.

Personally, I prefer a tax system that doesn’t force me to do extra work. I don’t mind the taxes on gas so much, for example, because they’re buried in the bill at the pump and it’s the gas station owner or oil company that has to do the math.

Left to me, government would collect its taxes as close to the source as possible. That way, the taxes would be passed on less visibly to the consumer.

But that’s never going to happen. We’re always going to be stuck with figuring out our own tax burden and finding the money to pay for it. And we will just keep on grumbling about it.

Trump is tapping into the anti-tax sentiment with a proposal that’s supposed to simplify the process and reduce the burden. But a closer look reveals the plan is designed to benefit Daddy Warbucks types like Trump, not you and me.

The approach isn’t new or original. It’s a lot like the disastrous experiment in Kansas, where cutting corporate taxes and so on bankrupted the state.

Republicans have been trying to sell us the scam for decades, and from time to time, Republican governments have put their bogus philosophy to the test.

And if time has proven one thing, it’s that cutting taxes for the rich doesn’t create a “trickle-down” effect ultimately enriching the rest of us. What it does is increase income inequality and create massive government deficits.

Anyway, I’m sure Trump’s plan isn’t going anywhere, There are too many powerful special interests who would be hurt. It will most likely turn out to be just another botched Trump initiative.

And that would be a good thing for America.

Trump’s proposal

The failed Kansas experiment